Fashion Entrepreneur Podcast

Fashion Originators



Welcome to Fashion Originators, a podcast hosted by me, Stephanie Irwin. Every other week, I interview game-changing fashion entrepreneurs. Each episode, THEY share their wins, losses and wisdom – all to inspire your career and personal goals.

#FashionOGNews: legging pyramid schemes, the END of Topshop and Kim Jones magazine?

#FashionOGNews: legging pyramid schemes, the END of Topshop and Kim Jones magazine?

Photo: a still from the Vice documentary on the alleged Lularoe pyramid scheme

On the latest edition of #fashionognews, I have the real tea on some riveting fashion stories. I’ve been on the edge of my seat, waiting to share these with you guys this week; whether it’s the Lularoe pyramid scheme controversy, or the Giambattista x H&M collab (yawn).

As always, I hope you guys enjoy the news update and all the stories I hand-picked this week (with a sprinkle of sassy commentary -- naturally).

TopShop closing all USA stores!

This week, TopShop filed for bankruptcy protection in the United States, and announced that they’ll be closing all 11 of their stores. Rather than blaming their woes on over-priced low-quality product, TopShop (like many others), blame Amazon, T.K Maxx and direct to consumer brands.

Like any industry, however, people need to recognize that they will not be the top-player forever if they keep doing the same thing for the rest of eternity. If you want to compete, you need to evolve -- and TopShop haven’t exactly been evolving. They came to popularity with their revolutionary celebrity collaborations (they were really the first to do this well -- their Kate Moss one being the most successful), but they have not done anything of note since that time.

I do appreciate that they cater to a wide range of sizes, that you can get bubble tea and a blow-dry in their Oxford street store, and that you can get a ton of smaller non-TopShop brands in the basement of their Oxford Street store, what you can’t get is a ‘good deal’ or a ‘sustainable’ brand. For me, shoppers are as divided when it comes to clothes as citizens when it comes to American politics. Maybe it’s just the media, but it feels like people either want a £2 dress on Boohoo or a £60 organic cotton teeshirt -- not a mediocre arcylic dress for £100.

H&M announces Giambattista Valli collab at Cannes Film Festival

Kendall Jenner in a massive pink dress at Cannes, Chiara Ferragni and others to…. what better way to announce an H&M x Giambattista Valli collaboration?

Called #project<3 , the collection features a bunch of romantic dresses, and an accompanying video of Valli talking about romance and the spirit of couture (beautiful fabrics in particular -- something that a highstreet collaboration likely won’t feature). Personally, I’m bored. I think it’s a cry for global attention / relevance (not that there’s anything wrong with that -- depends on your goals). Clearly Valli wants people to talk -- and who else can afford to put your designs on Kendall Jenner and Chiara Ferragni, besides a fast fashion giant? So, good for you Giambattista Valli -- get that money and global attention. In doing so, I hope the brand can build a design perspective that’s more interesting, and maybe leverage this moment while they still can.

The Lularoe pyramid scheme disaster

I watched the video that Vice did about this scandal, and I was riveted the whole time. For those of you who don’t know (don’t worry -- I didn’t know till yesterday), Lularoe is an American ‘multi-level marketing’ company that lets you become a ‘style consultant’ (AKA someone who sells cheap leggings over Facebook and makes BANK) if you buy around $10,000 of inventory, which you then sell for double the price.

Now, you may wonder, what exactly makes a company a pyramid scheme, and why do people say that Lularoe is one? Well, a pyramid scheme is a company, essentially, that focuses more on recruiting people to sell product than actually selling product itself. Luring mothers with the promise of making ‘50-100k’ per year working part-time (plus a huge community of 15000+ other women), Lularoe knew how to pitch a dream.

Call me cynical, but I’ve always been of the mind that if it’s too good to be true -- it probably is. That being said, I still find this fascinating, and I guess when you’re in a vulnerable place emotionally, its easier for people like Lularoe’s founders to manipulate you through creating a fantasy (which in a way, is exactly what fashion advertising does). Honestly, I could write a novel on the psychological manipulation, the ‘selling over Facebook livestream’ business model (like HSN but more DIY)... just give it a read ;).

Kim Jones edits ‘A Magazine Curated by’

The 19th issue of the magazine will be edited by Kim Jones. For 248 pages, the issue features people who inspire jones in alphabetical order (‘A’ for Naomi Campbell’s Africa, etc). In the past, the likes of Martin Margiela and Ricardo Tisci have ‘curated’ the magazine.

The best part of the magazine (which comes out May 29th)? The cyborg illustration of Bella Hadid by Hajime Sorayama -- really cool and ironic (considering how she is a surgically generated piece of art, just as a person).

BONUS: Fashion media is addicted to data - Amy Odell

For the bonus feature of #fashionognews, I wanted to discuss this fabulously written piece by Amy Odell. Not enough people are talking about the negatives of data. Nowadays, it seems companies are chasing clicks, rather than chasing a loyal reader base. In this article, Amy highlights the dangers of such short-term thinking, and how it can destroy the entire publication you’ve built. A must-read.

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